Janice Houghton-Wallace looks at what to do and when for healthy poults

The three months of Spring – March, April and May are ideal for incubating turkey eggs. This is more important for the standard turkeys than the commercial broad-breasted, as the older varieties take a little longer to reach maturity and the extra few weeks make all the difference. Turkeys hatched around April, May and at a pinch, June, will be able to benefit from the summer months and growing up on grass and in sunshine.

Whether you are rearing for the Christmas market or for exhibition, these Spring hatched turkeys should be developing well by the end of the year.

If keeping more than one variety these different groups should have been separated around Christmas/New Year, before thoughts of mating take place. A hen turkey will begin to squat for the stag once she is ready to mate and if she is wearing a protective saddle she should not come to any harm during this.

Once mating starts the hen will begin to lay eggs 28 days later. Do not wait until a hen begins to lay before putting a particular stag with her, for if she is already with a stag that original stag will have fertilised her and this fertility will remain for a long period of several weeks or even until she goes broody.

People often make this mistake and end up with cross-breeds because of not separating the varieties early enough.

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